Students giving gift to teachers who grade their tests
Fatwa No: 354622

Question

It is our tradition to give gifts to our teachers for their service. We strongly think that these gifts do not affect the teacher's behavior towards us. Is it permissible? Our teachers sometimes arrange an open book test, in which we can open our notes during the test. However, this is not the final exam. This test does matter towards our final scor,e but it does not affect as much as the finals. Is this cheating? This is a known practice in our country. When we get a score under the standard, the teacher gives us a task to do instead of repeating the test or exam. Sometimes the task is easy, and sometimes it is not. Then the teacher increase the scores. This is different according to the teacher. Some teachers increase it based on such, and some based on such. The school does not regulates this, so it is a matter between the student and the teacher. Is this wrong? Lastly, if, for example, I am a smart student and teachers like me, they will make the matter easier for me. For example, if they give me assignments to fix my test score, they will make it easy knowing that I am capable. And sometimes they will pay more attention to me. And they might let me off easy when I come late to a class for a valid reason. Is this a kind of bad favouritism? I hope your answer will be complete, as this is an important matter for the students in order to prevent them from falling into sin. Thank you very much for your patience in replying this.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

With regard to the gifts that you give to the teachers, it is better to stop doing so, because this could influence them and lead them to favor the student who gave them such gifts.

So if the gift by the student or his guardian to the teacher is intended for favoritism, such as raising the student’s grades in the exam or giving him an advantage at the expense of other students, then this is a forbidden bribe. However, if it is not for a bad purpose, then it is not forbidden. Nevertheless, it is better to absolutely avoid this, especially given that you mentioned that a teacher has the right to raise the student grades and be lenient with him.

As regards the second part of your question, which is about the method of the test itself and evaluating the student's level and other things that are authorized by the education authority, which leaves the matter to the teacher, then there is no harm in this, and it does not constitute cheating because it is not obligatory that the test be in one form or one manner.

If the law of the school and its system allow the teacher to grant the student grades without answering questions based on knowing him or as a way of encouraging him and they let the teacher determine the matter in this regard, then there is nothing wrong with it.

Allah knows best.

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